Supreme Court Balks, Refuses to Hear New York Pistol Case

The U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t heard a gun-related case in 10 years, and they just passed on another. (Photo: Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States)

The U.S. Supreme Court handed gun control advocates a major victory today by refusing to hear a suit brought by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association against the City of New York.

Gun rights proponents had hoped the court would use the case to strengthen Second Amendment rights after ten years of refusing to take up a gun-related case. The Court hasn’t heard a gun case since its landmark Heller and McDonald decisions, and since then lower courts have consistently ignored the robust protections those decisions offered.

In an unsigned opinion, the court ruled that the New York case is now moot because New York City repealed the handgun law in question. The city had previously prohibited residents from transporting a handgun outside of city limits but promptly voided the law after SCOTUS decided to hear the case.

“The State of New York amended its firearm licensing statute, and the City amended the rule so that petitioners may now transport firearms to a second home or shooting range outside of the city, which is the precise relief that petitioners requested in the prayer for relief in their complaint,” the court ruled. “Petitioners’ claim for declaratory and injunctive relief with respect to the City’s old rule is therefore moot.”

Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas dissented.

SEE ALSO: SAF Petitions Supreme Court for Review of Rodriguez Case

The news isn’t all bad, however. In his concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh opened the door for the court to hear other Second Amendment cases in the near future. While he agreed with the majority’s opinion about this case’s mootness, he shared Justice Alito’s concern that lower courts are ignoring the Heller decision.

“The Court should address that issue soon, perhaps in one of the several Second Amendment cases with petitions for certiorari now pending before the Court,” he said.

The Second Amendment Foundation has filed four gun-related cases with the Supreme Court, and they sounded an optimistic note in a press release about the New York case.

“The Second Amendment Foundation currently has four cases pending before the Supreme Court that could serve that purpose,” SAF Founder Alan Gottlieb said, referring to Justice Kavanaugh’s opinion. “And we hope that one or all of these cases gets heard and gives notice to lower courts that they can no longer thumb their noses at the prior rulings that protect Second Amendment rights.”

The four SAF cases already submitted to the high court are Rodriguez v. City of San Jose; Pena v. Cid, Culp v. Madigan and Mance v. Barr. The Mance case involves SAF’s sister organization, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms as a plaintiff.

SEE ALSO: Supreme Court Allows Sandy Hook Suit to Proceed Against Remington

In his dissent, Justice Alito argued that while the restrictive New York law had been repealed, the controversy is still “live” and the Court has a duty to intervene.

A case becomes moot “only when it is impossible for a court to grant any effectual relief whatever to the prevailing party. As long as the parties have a concrete interest, however small, in the outcome of the litigation, the case is not moot,” Alito said, quoting from a previous case.

“By incorrectly dismissing this case as moot, the Court permits our docket to be manipulated in a way that should not be countenanced,” he concluded.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Scott May 5, 2020, 7:39 pm

    Totally wrong analysis by the author. SCOTUS had no jurisdiction to rule in the matter since the offending constriction was withdrawn by NY state. There was no case to hear. SCOTUS does not set precedents by imaginary cases of “…if so and so did this, what would you do?” What you should be focused on is how quickly NY State withdrew their when SCOTUS decided to hear the case signaling all liberal states that SCOTUS is looking for a case, a legal vehicle, to strengthen and clarify HELLER, which lower courts are ignoring, thus pissing off SCOTUS.

  • Eric May 4, 2020, 7:13 pm

    Is there any way to hold the Supreme court accountable for allowing law-makers to write laws in direct conflict with our country’s constitution, without punishment? Why isn’t all this stuff punishable?

  • Earl Haehl May 4, 2020, 12:04 pm

    The Kansas case in Brown v. Board of Education was moot since the Legislature repealed the statute allowing cities of the first class to use the “separate but equal” method for asignimg students an no, Topeka USD 501 cannot bus children to adjust racial balance in schools.

    What this tells me is that a multi-jurisdictional cas may be what is necessary to get a ruling by the nine.

  • Ej harbet May 2, 2020, 7:33 pm

    Forget scotus! roberts is the new Kennedy and cavanaugh is a squish. Expect no relief from them and if the do hear a 2a case they wont rule for the constitution.
    We let the nanny state chain us like dogs or some people got to do some things

  • Anthony C May 1, 2020, 11:51 am

    It is a win for the citizens of NY, but unfortunately that state made sure to force the SAF to spend as much money as it can to take this case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court before conceding the case and changing the state law just before the case was heard and a resounding verdict could be made against NY. Anti-2nd Amendment activists drew this out long enough, but yes, they knew they would lose, so best for them not to allow this case to reach a verdict by the U.S. Constitutional-friendly Supreme Court. If NY had lost this case, it would set the anti-gunners back all across the nation. As it stands now, states and cities across the nation still have the upper hand and continue to harass and infringe upon the citizen’s right to keep and bear arms (this includes transporting them between homes and to gun ranges for training, as well as for lawful armed personal protection). Until such time that a case actually makes its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, SAF and other gun-friendly advocacy groups will have to keep spending millions of dollars fighting battles in multiple states and municipalities simultaneously, probably forever. Anti-gunners are gaming the system so that it is difficult to challenge unconstitutional laws. THIS is why it is so important that the citizens remain vigilant in electing state and federal legislators who will reform the laws across this nation so that they realign with the Bill of Rights freedoms.

  • Jimbo May 1, 2020, 10:27 am

    It’s a loss because of all the money and time invested getting the case through the lower courts and then to the Supreme Court. It’s also a loss, because it there is no ruling from the Supreme Court to prevent OTHER cities from doing the same thing…

  • Bill May 1, 2020, 9:18 am

    This is not a win for gun control. We already won when N.Y. changed! Give praise for the win and stop whining about this. It’s fake news with hiwyyou are complaining and shows a lack of understanding and analysis of our legal system!

  • Gary May 1, 2020, 3:32 am

    They were correct..the point now was moot. Which is WHY NY changed it before the high court could hear it. They knew they would lose.
    As for Chicago ignoring the Supreme Court rulings like they were made by the NRA, there should be some serious JAIL time for not doing as ordered by the highest court in the land.
    After all, this IS supposed to be a nation of LAWS right?? If our ellected officials don’t have to obey them, or even acknowledge them..then WHY would they mean anything to the rest of us??

    • Mike V May 1, 2020, 8:09 am

      Alito doesn’t think it’s moot, why is he wrong?

      • Lloyd A Smith May 1, 2020, 9:16 am

        We need more Alitos and less Ruths.

        • Calvin Johnson May 1, 2020, 10:40 am

          AMEN to that. Vote the lefties out and conservatives in next November. That doesn’t guarantee a court that upholds the constitution but makes it much more likely in the future.

  • Ken April 29, 2020, 2:35 pm

    Thank you Mr Michaels for the update. Sounds like the SCOTUS needs to discipline the
    lower courts in their ignorance of the higher courts rulings.

    • deanbob May 1, 2020, 1:42 pm

      This is the responsibility of the chief justice of SCOTUS. He has been absent in reining in the federal justices’ overreach (standing etc), much less punishing the federal justices for ignoring those rulings.

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